The Legend of Wonder Woman: The Story We Need

If you read these reviews each week, you’ve likely noticed that Ray and myself shake our heads whenever we get to the regular Wonder Woman title. The quality of it verges from ‘meh’ to ‘awful.’

Even the quality story previous to the current creative team,  an imaginative, mythic-fueled story by Brian Azzarello and drawn magnificently by Cliff Chiang wasn’t one I could read, given that it morphed the Amazons into killers who preyed on unwitting men in passing ships, killed them, and sold the male children into slavery to a god. If Wonder Woman is supposed to show the best of humanity, how does she learn any ideals when being raised by flat-out murderers? This tale sidelined Wonder Woman’s relationship with her mother, Hippolyta, and instead gave her “daddy issues” by making her the daughter of Zeus, rather than the embodiment of Hippolyta and the Amazons’ hopes and dreams for children.

The Legend of Wonder Woman #1, written and drawn by Renae De Liz, has everything I could want from a Wonder Woman title. I’m sorry I missed the digital-first chapters and I’m only reading it for the first time now but part of me is not sorry because the art and the colors pop beautifully in print. It’s a work that I want to own, not to have live in my computer screen.

This series reinvents the Amazon and Princess Diana and, yet, the female-oriented society of hope and peace is intact. The story provides little Diana with intelligence and compassion as well the promise of warrior skills. It’s all detailed beautifully without any of the male gaze oriented-art featured in the main Wonder Woman title. Little Princess Diana who longs to be more than she is is a hero to root for, and a story to root for. It reminds me, in a good way, of Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman: The Circle, which also focused on Amazon society and how the need and love of children affect them.

As Ray says in the full review below, “after one issue, this has the chance to be one of the all-time classic DC origin stories.”

However, be warned, spoilers after the cut!

Go. Buy it, either in print or digitally. And hope that those making the Wonder Woman movie are paying attention.

Renae De Liz
Digital first cover, copyright DC Comics.

Full review:

The Legend of Wonder Woman #1, story and pencils by Renae De Liz, inks, colors and letters by Ray Dillon.

Ray: Book of the Week.

Corrina: A Must Read.

Ray: There are some superheroes who get a new origin story every year. Spider-man’s had so many origins and reboots that people can retell his origin by rote. Same for Superman (and more on that in our regular reviews). Wonder Woman, though – when’s the last time she had a truly iconic origin story?

The closest I can think of is the flashbacks in the Azzarello run, but that was necessary to introduce us to her very different, controversial new origin that made her Zeus’ daughter. This new digital-first title by Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon is a different story, taking us back to Diana’s classic origin and showing us her early years far more in depth than we’ve ever seen before. The first segment here starts with the history of the Amazons, and adds some new wrinkles about how new Amazons are created and Hippolyta’s interaction with her people, and ends with Diana being created by the Gods – as a mortal child for Hippolyta.

Diana being born mortal is a unique twist that I did not see coming. The rest of the issue focuses on her childhood, as she struggles to find her place in the society of Themysrica and bristles under her mother’s overprotective nature. Hippolyta forbids Diana to learn to fight or leave the castle, but Diana senses something is wrong with the island and a darkness is coming. That leads her to sneak out and travel through the woods – and find an area of Themysrica that is wild and untamed, containing all the ancient creatures of greek myth. As a massive fan of monsters and mythology, this is exactly what I like to see in Wonder Woman. A close encounter with a corrupted Manticore – who is one of the creepiest monsters I’ve seen in a while – leads to the young Diana being rescued by the Amazons’ combat trainer, Alcippe, and Diana eventually convinces her to train her in combat in secret. I’m surprised to see the first issue end with Diana still a little girl, but I sort of like it. There’s so many unanswered questions in Diana’s origin that I’m glad to see De Liz give it some room to breathe. After one issue, this has the chance to be one of the all-time classic DC origin stories.

Corrina: This is an introductory issue but it had to be to let readers know who these Amazons are and how they came to be, since there are so many versions of their origin tale and particularly to let any DC reader know these aren’t Azzarello/Chiang Amazons.

The introduction also focuses on Hippolyta, a nice change, and her longing for a child especially as other Amazons seem able to bear children. The gods hear her pleas but, in the way of gods, make her dream come true in a way sure to break her heart, by making her daughter mortal. The Amazon Queen refuses to accept that her daughter will only live for a mortal lifespan and, as a result, is determined to protect her. Well, over-protect her. It’s a mother-daughter conflict that feels real.

That’s the subtlety of this story. It gives us a willful child in Diana, a child who’s as yet ignorant of the dangers she might face, and yet not one who feels spoiled, angry or whiny. This story gives us a hero.

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Writer, Mom, Geek and Superhero. though usually not all four on the same day. Author of the award-winning Phoenix Institute Superhero series and the steampunk novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract.